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Full text of "A history of Persia"

474                  HISTORY OF PERSIA                 CHAP.
In 1872 a third convention was concluded, by the
terms of which three wires were provided, two for
international and one for local use. There were no
important changes until, in 1898, it was decided to
construct a direct land line across South-Eastern Persia to
Karachi. In that year I was proceeding from Shiraz to
found the Sistan Consulate. At Isfahan I was overtaken
by Mr. King Wood, who was instructed to make a
survey for this line, and we travelled together to Sistan.
Mr. King Wood subsequently constructed the Central
Persia Telegraph Line, as it was called, as far as the
British frontier. In his case the Persian officials were
friendly, but the natural difficulties were greater, as the
Lut had to be crossed. In spite of this, the line was
successfully constructed, and constitutes another monu-
ment to British enterprise.
Their Influence on Persia.—Apart from the great trunk
systems, Persia now possesses other lines, managed by
the Minister of Telegraphs, who has an English adviser.
She receives an annual royalty, and is paid for all local
and foreign messages. But beyond these material
advantages there are still greater benefits. Before the
boon of electric communication was conferred there was
little effective control over the distant provinces, and
much of the history of Persia consists of revolts headed
by pretenders or turbulent chiefs. All this was changed
by the construction of lines enabling news of local events
to reach the Government daily. Moreover, the wires are
popularly supposed to end at the foot of the throne in
the royal palace, and on this account telegraph offices
have become bast, or sanctuary, and thus provide a defence
against oppression. Apart from this, Persia, formerly an
isolated kingdom, has gradually entered into the comity
of nations ; and not only has her prestige been enhanced
thereby, but ideas of progress and reform have gradually
filtered in from outside and taken root, even though
sometimes the soil was stony.
The part played by British officials has been remark-
able. The late Mukbar-u-Dola, who was * the first
Minister of Telegraphs and held the post for more than